Trials and tribulations of WHL scout . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark Portland win . . . Some Saturday highlights, too


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With four weeks left in the WHL’s regular season, four teams have clinched playoff spots — the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Vancouver Giants and Portland whlWinterhawks.

However, not one of the eight first-round playoff matchups has been set in stone.

The Raiders, for example, will finish atop the Eastern Conference, so will draw the second wild-card team. That slot will go to any one of seven teams.

The winner of the Central Division will get the first wild-card team, which obviously has yet to be decided. As for the division pennant winner, well, all five teams remain in the chase.

Although it’s not official, at least not mathematically, the Saskatoon Blades will have home-ice advantage in a first-round series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades are headed for a second-place finish in the East Division, with the Warriors in third.

In the Western Conference, only one team is assured of where it will finish — when it’s over, the Giants will be atop the B.C. Division.

Vancouver also is tied with Everett atop the conference standings, and the Giants hold a game in hand.

The Victoria Royals almost certainly will finish second in the B.C. Division — they are 20 points behind Vancouver and 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets — but other than that it’s a roll of the dice.

Portland is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Silvertips and 10 ahead of the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna, and the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet know in which spots they will wind up.

The Prince George Cougars aren’t officially out of it, but they are 12 points from a playoff spot, riding a 15-game losing skid (0-11-4) and have only 12 games remaining.


So . . . you think you’d like to scout for a WHL team, do you?

Here’s an early Sunday evening posting on Facebook from Mike Fraser, the Everett EverettSilvertips’ head scout . . .

“The 10 things I’ve learned in my 12 hours (so far) at Saskatoon airport:

“1. Travelling in winter isn’t always made easier by flying instead of driving.

“2. When you are accommodating and agree to a 6:15 pm flight to help appease people going to Puerto Vallarta, the Flying Gods don’t necessarily have to make your 6:15 flight on time either (I’m now delayed two more hours).

“3. If your flight starts getting delayed in 5- or 10-minute increments starting 3-or-so hours before departure time, that’s a bad sign and start looking at other options.

“4. Trying to cancel a hotel room in Red Deer because you’re stuck in Saskatoon doesn’t mean the hotel in Red Deer won’t charge you.

“5. Guys need to stop texting while standing at a urinal….that’s just weird, and gross.

“6. I’ve now had 12 of my last 13 trips delayed, a dynasty not even Tom Brady can touch.

“7. Starbucks closes very early at Saskatoon airport.

“8. No matter how many times I see the Jets highlights from last night, they still lost.

“9. I’ve learned that one woman likes to tell her boyfriend when they can sleep together based on her “cycles.” No I didn’t ask, she told an entire section of us while on a very loud and apparently open phone call.

“10. I still refuse to drink Pilsner.

“Cheers my friends, here’s to hoping I get home tonight.”

Later Sunday, Fraser posted: “And we’re now cancelled . . . let’s try again tomorrow?”

To be continued . . .


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Behind three goals and an assist from F Joachim Blichfeld, the Portland Winterhawks Portlandclinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (35-16-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who have a game in hand. . . . The Winterhawks, who will be in the playoffs for a 10th straight season, have 11 games remaining, but only three of them are at home. . . . Seattle (23-28-6) had won its previous two games. It is in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . The Thunderbirds went 2-1-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . With three games remaining, Portland leads the season series (6-2-0); Seattle is (2-5-1). . . . F Josh Paterson (21) broke a 1-1 tie at 16:26 of the first period, and Blichfeld took it from there, scoring Portland’s last three goals. . . . Blichfeld, who recorded his fourth career hat trick, leads the WHL in goals (48) and points (98), in 57 games. His third goal of the game was the 100th regular-season goal. . . . F Cody Glass, playing his second game in two nights after missing eight games with a knee injury, had the primary assist on each of Blichfeld’s goals. Glass has 68 points, including 54 assists, in 36 games. . . . Blichfeld scored once on the PP, once while shorthanded and once at even strength. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 1-2. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman scored his 32nd goal, on a PP, to run his goal-scoring streak to six games. . . . The Winterhawks had a 52-36 edge in shots. . . . G Josh Hofer stopped 34 shots to earn the victory. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius turned aside 47 shots. . . . Portland head coach Mike Johnston posted his 350th regular-season coaching victory. He is 19th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Winterhawks will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan had a goal and four assists, and F Stelio Mattheos had three goals and an assist, as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 6-3. . . . Brandon (26-22-7) has won three in a row and now is four points from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot that is held by the Red Deer Rebels. . . . That second spot will mean a first-round clash with Prince Albert (46-8-3), which had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders have lost two in a row for the first time this season. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings went into Prince Albert and won, 5-4 in OT. . . . G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason remain out of the Raiders’ lineup. . . . Brandon was 3-9 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-4. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Cole Reinhardt, while F Justin Nachbaur scored twice for the Raiders.


F Tate Popple scored twice, and F Brayden Tracey had a goal and two assists, helping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (31-15-8) had lost its previous two games. The Warriors are second in the East Division and headed for a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Regina (16-38-3) hasn’t lost 40 games in regulation-time since 2004-05 when it finished 12-50-10. . . . Regina F Austin Pratt was credited with his 22nd goal when the Warriors scored an own goal with a delayed penalty about to be called on the Pats. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He has 62 points, including 25 goals, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors were credited with a 47-19 edge in faceoffs. . . . It was Hall of Fame weekend in Moose Jaw as F Shawn Limpright and F Brian Sutherby, both of whom played four seasons (1998-2002) there, were inducted into the Warriors’ shrine.


The Saskatoon Blades solidified their hold on second place in the East Division with a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Saskatoon (37-13-8) has points in 13 straight games (11-0-2). It is second in the division, 13 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders and 12 up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold four games in hand. . . . Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are headed for a first-round playoff meeting. They will meet twice more this regular season — on March 5 in Moose Jaw and March 10 in Saskatoon. The Blades lead the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Four of Lethbridge’s last four games will be against Medicine Hat, starting with a home-and-home on Friday (Lethbridge) and Saturday (Medicine Hat).


F Mark Kastelic scored three goals to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (30-21-5) has won two in a row. . . . The Hitmen beat the visiting Tigers, 3-1, on Friday night. . . . Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Medicine Hat and three behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen continued to hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (31-21-5) has lost three straight. . . . On Saturday, the Hitmen erased a 3-2 third-period deficit with the game’s last three goals. Kastelic had opened the game’s scoring with his 40th goal of the season in the first period. He added a pair of third-period PP goals, equalizing at 9:06 and adding insurance at 16:18. . . . In between, D Vladilsav Yeryomenko’s third goal, at 12:02, turned into the winner.


G David Tendeck stopped 22 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (39-13-3) has won seven in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals, who have 13 games remaining. . . . The Giants haven’t enjoyed a 40-victory regular season since 2011-12 when they finished 40-26-6. . . . Vancouver also is tied with the Everett Silvertips (39-14-3) for top spot in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (23-28-5) has lost two in a row. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, 10 points behind Victoria and four ahead of the Kelowna Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . The Rockets left Sunday on their final multi-game road trip of the season; they’ll play a doubleheader in Victoria this afternoon and Tuesday night, then meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday night. . . . The Rockets have three games left with Vancouver, two of them in Langley, B.C., and two with the Portland Winterhawks, both in Kelowna. . . . Tendeck has three shutouts this season, matching his total from last season.


G Joel Hofer turned aside 25 shots as his Portland Winterhawks blanked the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 2-0. . . . Portland (34-16-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). After beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2, on Sunday, the Winterhawks, who are second in the U.S. Division, are five points behind the Everett Silvertips. Portland and Everett only have one game remaining with each other. . . . Red Deer (29-21-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels are 1-2-1 on a U.S. Division swing that ends Tuesday night with a visit to the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (10) scored the game’s first goal, just 41 seconds into the third period. . . . Portland’s second goal was an empty-netter off the stick of F Cody Glass (14). Glass was playing in his first game after suffering a knee injury on Jan. 26. He missed eight games. . . . Hofer has four career shutouts, two with the Swift Current Broncos and two since his trade to Portland.


F Kody McDonald scored two goals in regulation time and one in a shootout as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. . . . One night earlier, the Royals won, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . Victoria (29-23-3) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, 20 points behind the Vancouver Giants and 10 in front of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-7) has lost 15 in a row (0-11-4). The Cougars are 12 points from a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. They are fifth in the B.C. Division, 12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George also is 13 points from a wild-cardspot. . . . McDonald, 20, played the first 232 games of his WHL career with the Cougars, who dealt him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him from the Raiders earlier this season. . . . McDonald, who has 15 goals, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 0:51 of the third period, then forced OT with a goal at 17:03. . . . He won the game when he closed out the third round of the shootout with a goal. . . . F Carson Miller, who was part of the Prince Albert-Victoria deal that included McDonald, also had two goals for the Royals, with F Josh Maser scoring twice for the Cougars. Those were Miller’s first goals with Victoria since the trade.


G Roddy Ross stopped 46 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . If you’re new here, Seattle plays its home games in Kent. . . . Seattle (23-27-6) is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . Everett (39-14-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett also is tied with the Vancouver Giants for top spot in the Western Conference. The Giants (39-13-3) have a game in hand. . . . Everett and Seattle combined for 110 penalty minutes, 96 of them in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . You’re right. These teams don’t like each other, and they still have to play each other three more times. . . . This also could be a first-round playoff matchup. Everett leads the season series, 6-1-0; Seattle is 1-5-1. . . . F Matthew Wedman had a goal and two assists for the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He’s got 62 points, 31 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . This was Everett’s third game in fewer than 48 hours. They dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Thursday night, in a game that was rescheduled from Wednesday, then beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Silvertips will make it five games in six days by playing a doubleheader in Prince George on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night.


F Kyle Olson scored three times and added an assist to help the Tri-City Americans to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (31-20-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane and with a game in hand. . . . Spokane (30-19-6) has lost two straight. It is third in the U.S. Division, eight points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each had a goal and two assists for Tri-City. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and and assist from freshman F Adam Beckman. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, Beckman has 48 points, 25 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm may have been five times, but he still came up with 45 saves.


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Scattershooting after CFL’s big day . . . Carcillo tweets a bullying story . . . Silvertips take care of Winterhawks

Scattershooting

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with the details on one of 2018’s greatest sporting controversies: “Wesley Harms blamed his 10-2 semifinal loss to two-time world champion Gary Anderson at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, England, on Anderson fouling the air with flatulence, telling Dutch TV station RTL7L: ‘It’ll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose.’ Anderson, however, vehemently denied his triumph was wind-aided.”



Mick McGeough, who suffered a stroke on Sunday and was taken off life support by his family later in the week, was one of a kind as a WHL/NHL referee. Had referees worn microphones when he was working, he may never have had his in the ‘off’ position. Yes, he was Wes McCauley before Wes McCauley. . . . Condolences to Mick’s family, friends and associates.


You may have heard the buzz recently about John Dorsey, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, saying that he might think about Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state, as the NFL team’s next head coach. Here’s what old friend Jack Finarelli of SportsCurmudgeon.com thought of that: “If he said that as part of a stand-up comedy routine, maybe it would work in that context; in just about any other context, it is about as dumb as an inflatable dart board.”


Just wondering, but do stores in the U.S. have Black (whatever-day-of-the-week-it-is) sales on the day after Canadian Thanksgiving?



Yes, I ventured into a few stores on Friday afternoon. I was quickly reminded that we are into the time of year when many shoppers are in surly moods. It’s also the time of year when the number of phone-gazing shoppers clogging aisles seems to quadruple. So be careful out there.



Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): 42 Million Dead in Bloodiest Black Friday Weekend on Record


Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors wasn’t injured in a car accident on Friday morning. “I think he has another car that can drive,” offered a joking Steve Kerr, the NBA team’s head coach. . . . That brought this tweet from Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Bob (Butterbean) Love, former NBA great, once called to say he’d miss practice due to car trouble. A teammate said, ‘Must be an epidemic. Bean’s got six cars.’ ”



Is it just me or is Brian Burke working hard at becoming another Don Cherry, only without the wardrobe?


Blogger Tony Chong of Richmond, B.C., is back with us after a brief absence, and he is wondering “why doesn’t E. coli or listeria ever affect brussel sprouts?”


Beaters


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Steelers are clearly distracted by not having Le’Veon Bell as a distraction


When the gap in a football game is seven or eight points, why do announcers insist on calling it a one-score game? Excuse me, but the trailing team still needs a touchdown and a one- or two-point conversion to pull even. By my math that’s two scores.


Cartoon


ThisThat

Daniel Carcillo’s NHL career included 429 games and 1,233 penalty minutes, so you know what his role was with the teams for which he played — the Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.

Before reaching the NHL, he played 161 regular-season games in the OHL (2002-05) — 141 with the Sarnia Sting and 20 with the Mississauga IceDogs.

These days, Carcillo, as he puts it on his Twitter page, is a “Mental Health/Concussion/TBI Advocate.”

On Saturday, in a series of 15 tweets that started with a hashtag — #BullyingAwarenessWeek — Carcillo detailed the treatment he received as a rookie with the Sting. As you read this, don’t think for a minute that players on other teams throughout junior hockey weren’t subjected to similar hazings back in the day.

I have taken Carcillo’s 15 tweets and strung them together. Here is Carcillo’s story . . .

The year is 2002-2003 I am 17 turning 18 yrs old & it’s my @NHL draft year

I moved away from home, family & friends, to play hockey in the @OHLHockey for the @StingHockey

I endured daily bullying/abuse at the hands of veteran players.

Below is my story . . .

Moving away from everyone you’ve ever known is hard

Living with strangers is, well, strange

Going to a new high school isn’t easy

Daily practices, workouts, long travel times for games are gruelling

Playing against 21 yr olds when you are 17 is intimidating

Having your teammates beat you on a daily basis with the sawed off paddle of a goaltender’s hockey stick, takes both a physical & mental toll on a teenager

I remember being so confused at the beginning of the yr

I remember thinking to myself, “If this is part of the process, just shut your mouth & bide your time”

Another thought that often came to mind is why

Why are my teammates demeaning the youngest players on the team?

Do they think this will create team unity?

What did we do?

You can only whip a horse so much before it quits on you, & that’s exactly what happened my rookie year in the #OHL

There were 12 of us who were rookies

Most of us held strong until the latter part of the year, when we had a game against the @GoLondonKnights in London

It’s a fairly short bus ride from London to Sarnia, about 45 min when you are sitting in a bus seat

If you are stuffed inside the bus washroom with 6-7 other rookies, while veterans hurl their spit from chewing tobacco through a vent in the door at you, 45 mins can feel like an eternity.

2 of us had had enough

We came out of the washroom swinging

Needless to say we never got the “hot box” treatment again

I can go on & speak about the other abuses many of us had to endure that year, but that will be in the book, along with names of those responsible

Since our coaches almost seemed to condone and encourage this kind of behaviour, & our GM hired the coaches, I didn’t know who I could trust.

So I sent a letter to the Commissioner of the league, David Branch, explaining exactly what 12 of us had to endure on a daily basis

I am speaking honestly about this story bc I want ppl to know that you do not have to accept what bullies tell u

The guys beating me on a daily basis & degrading me, were also the ones I hung out with at night at the movies

The abuse didn’t stop

It was constant

My abusers would say things like “don’t worry man, you’re going to be able to do this to the rookies next year!”
I can remember thinking at that exact moment…

‘Why would I ever want to make someone feel this way, let alone my teammate?’

How did I get through that year?

It was my draft year, & I was singularly focused on my goal of making something of myself

Nothing was going to get in my way

No opponent or bully

Everything happens for a reason

We finished in 1st place in the #OHL but we made a 1st round exit out of the playoffs, losing to the Guelph Storm

Remember what I said about the horse?

You guessed it

All the rookies had quit on the veterans

A conscious decision

I can remember the talk the over-ager gave, a desperate plea after the 1st. period of game 4

He was crying

It didn’t matter

Many of us were broken now

Damaged not only from the game, but from the constant bullying & physical & mental abuse

Emotional lacerations that aren’t easy to stitch up

Bc of our first round exit & the yr I had, I was invited to play for @TeamCanada at the U-18s in Yaroslavl, Russia

The tournament was packed with scouts

We won the Gold Medal

I ended up being drafted 73rd overall to the @penguins in the 2003 #NHL entry draft

Everything happens for a reason!

Don’t discredit times of suffering

Through pain, both emotional & physical, I have discovered who I am

If u r experiencing bullying/abuse of any kind & u don’t know what to do, confide in someone you trust for advice.


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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Everett Silvertips snapped a 1-1 tie with three straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory Everettover the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Everett (19-7-1) has points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The Silvertips lead the Western Conference by five points over the Vancouver Giants (16-6-2) and the U.S. Division by nine points over the Winterhawks (14-9-2). . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 1:53 of the first period, only to have D Jared Freadrich (3) pull Portland even at 5:05. . . . Fasko-Rudas, who has six goals, broke the tie at 8:20, and F Reece Vitelli made it 3-1 at 16:11. . . . Everett went ahead 4-1 when F Luke Ormsby (2) counted at 17:34. . . . The Winterhawks made things interesting on goals from F Michal Kvasnica (2), at 18:01 of the second, and F Joachim Blichfeld (21), on a PP, at 9:27 of the third. . . . F Connor Dewar (21) wrapped it up for Everett with an empty-netter at 19:31. . . . Fasko-Rudas, a Slovakian sophomore, enjoyed the first two-goal game of his career. He has six goals and seven assists in 27 games this season, after putting up six goals and nine assists in 70 games last season. . . . Everett was awarded only two assists on its five goals and one of those went to G Dustin Wolf. . . . Glass ran his point streak to 12 games with one assist. In those 12 games, he has five goals and 18 helpers. . . . These teams will meet again Wednesday, this time in Everett.


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Hunter takes over Team Canada . . . Ex-Hitmen coach lands in Denver . . . Everett adds Backus, Fraser to front office


MacBeth

F Kaspars Saulietis (Kelowna, Regina, 2006-08) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 25 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 40 games with Dinamo Riga, and was pointless in three games while on loan to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) signed a one-year contract with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in one game with the Florida Panthers (NHL), and had 20 goals and 42 assists in 73 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL). He led the Thunderbirds in assists and points.


ThisThat

Tim Hunter, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has taken over as head coach of Canada’s national junior team. Hunter, 57, was an assistant with Canada each of the past Canadatwo seasons. . . . Hunter, who is preparing for his fifth season in Moose Jaw, replaces Dominique Ducharme, Canada’s head coach for each of the last two seasons. Ducharme has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . With Hunter moving up from assistant coach, Brent Kisio, the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been added to Canada’s staff. The other assistant coaches are Marc-Andre Dumont of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Jim Hulton of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . .

Mike Burnstein of the Vancouver Giants and Khore Elliott of the Victoria Royals have been named Team Canada’s athletic therapists. . . . Canada won the gold medal at the 2018 tournament in Buffalo, and will attempt to defend the title at the 2019 tournament that is scheduled to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26. . . . While Canada will play its round-robin games in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, it will hold its selection camp in Victoria. . . .

Group A comprises Canada, Czech Repulic, Denmark, Russia and
Switzerland, with Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Sweden and Team USA in Group B, which will play out of Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.


Dallas Ferguson, who left the Calgary Hitmen last month, is joining the U of Denver Pioneers as an assistant coach. He will work under first-year head coach Matt Carle, 28. . . . Carle has taken over from Jim Montgomery, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . Ferguson, 45, left the U of Alaska-Fairbanks to join the Hitmen as head coach prior to last season. He had been on the Nanook’ coaching staff for 13 seasons, the last nine as head coach. . . . In announcing Ferguson’s resignation on June 26, Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth explained in a news release: ““Dallas approached me last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this year.”


The Everett Silvertips firmed up the top end of their scouting department on Tuesday as Everettthey named Alvin Backus their director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as their head scout. . . . Backus spent the past seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. His contract with Montreal expired on Saturday and wasn’t renewed. . . . Backus lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. Garry Davidson, who is heading into his seventh season as the Silvertips’ general manager, was the owner, general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for seven seasons (2001-08). . . . Fraser, a WHL scout since 2005, lives in Edmonton. . . . He started scouting with the Swift Current Broncos in 2005 and spent seven seasons with them. Fraser has been working with the Brandon Wheat Kings since 2012-13. . . . The Silvertips lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel for four seasons, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who named him general manager on June 6.


Bob Jones has signed on as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Jones had been the head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals for three seasons, although he missed the 2017-18 season due to a serious health problem. Jones, 48, and the Generals then went their separate ways in April. . . . Derek Laxdal, a former head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, is the head coach with Texas.


Nathan Oystrick, a native of Regina, has been named the general manager and head HumboldtBroncoscoach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Oystick, 35, replaces Darcy Haugan, who was killed in the April 6 bus crash that also claimed 15 other lives. . . . Oystrick spent last season coaching a high school team in Colorado. In 2016-17, he was an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. . . . A defenceman, he played two seasons (2000-02) with the BCHL’s South Surrey Eagles before going on to four seasons at Northern Michigan U. His pro career included stints with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


Brayden Pettinger was a 20-year-old defenceman with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers when he suffered a devastating back injury during a game against the host Winnipeg Blues on Nov. 12, 2015. Pettinger, who is from Elgin, Man., now is in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. . . . These days, he and his father, Rick, are in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is undergoing a medical procedure. Brayden’s uncle, Larry, updated things with steinbachonline.com, and that piece is right here.


Geoff Grimwood has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors as assistant general manager and associate coach. Grimwood, 37, spent the past three seasons as the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. . . . In the past, he has worked with the WHL’s Victoria Royals and the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . With the Warriors, he’ll work alongside GM/head coach Rylan Ferster.


Jesse Dorrans is back as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces Bill Rotheisler, who was dismissed after two seasons on the job. . . . Rotheisler was hired prior to the 2016-17 season, taking over from Dorrans, who left to become GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He resigned after one season due to what the team said ws “personal reasons.”


F Skyler McKenzie of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year entry-level deal Portlandwith the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was a seventh-round selection by the Jets in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, McKenzie, 20, had 47 goals and 40 assists in 72 games. In 282 regular-season games with Portland, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native has 101 goals and 111 assist. He was an eighth-round pick by Portland in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the WHL for one more season, but likely will start the season with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL affiliate.


Two WHLers have been selected to the roster of USA Hockey’s representative for the U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. It will feature teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . F Luke Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips were named to the roster. Toporowski is from Bettendorf, Iowa, while Wolf is from Tustin, Calif. . . . The complete Team USA roster is right here.


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WHL scout pens Christmas tune . . . and it’s right here!

MikeFraser
Mike Fraser, with the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Mike Fraser, a veteran WHL scout who beats the bushes on behalf of the Brandon Wheat Kings, is big on Christmas. Here is his work for Christmas 2017, most of which likely was written during intermissions of bantam hockey games in the Edmonton area. . . .


Okay folks. After two years of ‘A Scout’s Night Before Christmas,’ both versions have been officially retired. So, in honour of the Christmas song that you hear 468 times a day during the holiday season — ‘All I Want for Christmas is You,’ by Mariah Carey — I give you: ‘All a Scout Wants for Christmas,’ a parody of Mariah’s classic. The only rule: You must sing it in the melody of Mariah’s version. And who are you kidding . . . you know the melody so don’t even pretend you don’t . . .

🎄ALL A SCOUT WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS🏒

I don’t want a lot for Christmas,
There is just one thing I need:
For all those rinks to turn the heat on
My hands and feet are both freezing.
I see those heaters up above,
Always turned off — never showing any love.
Make my wish come true,
Because all of my limbs are turning blue.

If Santa can’t turn on the heat this Christmas,
In those rinks we desperately need,
Then let’s get rid of annoying parents,
The ones that make both my ears bleed.
No one needs to hear their nonsense,
Especially kids living the dream.
They scream and yell and are never happy,
Even if their kid is best on the team.

Kids learn so much on their own,
Ridiculous parents make me groan,
Hockey’s fun that’s true,
So buddy don’t ruin it by making it about you.

I won’t ask for much this Christmas
But safety and health on those bad roads.
Bitter rink coffee is waiting,
And expect more than a few man-colds.

I will make a list and send it,
And think about our first-round pick,
Some nights I just stay awake,
And ponder which player we’ll take.

I wish the draft were here tonight,
But it’s a long season and that’s all right,
There’s lots yet still to do,
I won’t get time off until June.

Oh the goal light is shining,
A real bright red glare.
And the sound of kids cheering,
While lifting their sticks in the air.

And all the scouts are writing,
In their notebooks or even typing,
Santa won’t you bring,
That player we really need,
Won’t you please have him put on our jersey.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas,
All that I am asking for,
Another playoff run oh baby,
Like 2016 and not before.

But not just truly for my own,
For all our busy staff I know,
No matter how we do,
Baby I’ll be at the rink, how ‘bout you?